...contrary to much of domestic Australian legal opinion, Australia became an independent sovereign nation following Mr. William Morris Hughes, Prime Minister and Commonwealth Attorney-General, together with Sir Joseph Cook, signing the multi-lateral Treaty of Peace at Versailles, France in June 1919. This included the Covenant of the League of Nations, along with many other important documents in International Law. Particular attention should be paid to clauses I, X, XVIII, and XX of the Covenant. (go to
The 'Australian' Constitution is United Kingdom law.
In "An Act to Constitute the Commonwealth of Australia", the 9th clause of which is usually referred to as the 'Australian Constitution' was, is, and remains conditional upon the first 8 covering clauses of that Act, a current Act of domestic law of the United Kingdom Parliament.
Under Section 128 of Clause 9, minor alterations to the Constitution may be made by the Australian people. However, the Australian people may not alter, in any way, Clauses 1 to 8 of the Imperial Act. Since the Australian people have only ever had the right to change sections 1 to 128 of clause 9 of that Act, it follows that covering clauses 1 to 8 remain law in Australia.
The Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act passed through the UK Parliament in June 1900, to commence as law in Australia on the 1st of January 1901. Since the people of Australia have only ever had the right to change Sections 1 to 128 of Clause 9 of this Act, it follows that covering clauses 2, 6 and 8 remain law in Australia. (See Joosse v ASIC HCA 1998 159 ALR 260 or go to http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/other/hca/ ... M35/1.html
) This means that British colonial law still operates in Australia and that Australia is a self governing colony of the United Kingdom as stated in that Act (see clause
. However, the High Court of Australia has recently ruled that the United Kingdom is a foreign power, and that the UK Parliament cannot have any effect on the Governments of Australia (Sue v Hill HCA 30 of 1999 or seehttp://www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/cth/high_ct/1999/30.html
). Hence, if British colonial law continues to operate in Australia, then this constitutes a clear breach of international law, along with the duties and responsibilities of the Australian and the United Kingdom governments, as both were Foundation Members to the League of Nations, and the United Nations. The Covenant and the Charter of both bodies, respectively, bind these nations.
The Australian people do not have ultimate control over the 'Australian' Constitution. In mid-July 1995 the Lord Chancellor of the UK in answer to a Parliamentary question asked in the UK Parliament about the Australian Constitution, stated:
"The British Constitution Act 1900 was for self government. It was never intended to be and is not suitable to be the basis for independence. The right to repeal this Act remains the sole prerogative of the United Kingdom. There is no means by which under United Kingdom or international law this power can be transferred to a foreign country or Member State of the United Nations. Indeed, the United Nations Charter precludes any such action”.
(This response was confirmed by letter from the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, dated 11th Dec 1997, under the hand of Mark Armstrong, Far Eastern and Pacific Dept)
Australia is an Independent sovereign nation.
"By this recognition Australia became a Nation, and entered into a family of nations on a footing of equality. We had earned that, or, rather, our soldiers had earned it for us. In the achievement of victory they had played their part and no nation has a better right to be represented than Australia."
(William Morris Hughes, Prime Minister of Australia, House of Representatives, Commonwealth Parliament of Australia, 10th September, 1919)
During the 'Great War', the United Kingdom held Imperial War Conferences, to which the Dominions were finally invited to in 1917, as a result of their contributions to the war effort. It was at the 1917 Conference that the UK resolved to start the Dominions on the path to independent nationhood.Resolution IX stated:
The Imperial War Conference are of the opinion that the readjustment of constitutional relations of the component parts of the Empire is too important and intricate a subject to be dealt with during the War and that it should form the subject of a special Imperial Conference to be summoned as soon as possible after the cessation of hostilities. They deem it their duty, however, to place on record their view that any such readjustment, while thoroughly preserving all existing powers of self-government and complete control of domestic affairs, should be based on a full recognition of the Dominions as autonomous nations of an Imperial Commonwealth…"
Further, both as the result of the Dominions' World War I contributions, and the forceful position advanced by the United States President, Woodrow Wilson at Versailles, the United Kingdom, initially reluctantly, granted the Dominions the right to attend the Peace Treaty negotiations in their own right. This was followed by King George V instructing the Australian Governor-General, R. M. Ferguson, to issue a Head of State full powers document on the 23rd April 1919, being in "good and due form" authorising Mr. Hughes and Sir Joseph Cook to attend the Peace Conference and to negotiate, and sign the Treaty of Peace, on behalf of the Commonwealth of Australia. The emancipation of the Australian nation was recognised by the other signatories to the Treaty by these other independent nations allowing Australia, and the other former Dominions, to sign as separate nations. The United Kingdom no longer signed Treaties on behalf of Australia. The instrument through which this was achieved is also known as the Treaty of Versailles. (see http://history.acusd.edu/gen/text/versa ... tents.html
) The unanimous ratification of this action was finalised in the Commonwealth of Australia Parliament on October 1st 1919. Australia immediately became a Member State of the League of Nations and the International Labor Organisation. Membership of these organisations was only available to sovereign nation states.
As recently as November 1995, the Australian Parliament through the release of a report by the 'Senate Legal and Constitutional References Committee’ restated the historical events leading up to the achievement of independence, referring to the 1917 Imperial War Conference Resolution IX at para. 4.12, and clearly stated at para. 4.13 that Australia was now a sovereign nation:
"Australia became an independent member of the League of Nations and the International Labour Organisation in 1919."
and further in 4.13:
"This admission to the League and the International Labour Organisation involved recognition by other countries that Australia was now a sovereign nation with the necessary 'international personality' to enter into international relations “.
('Trick or Treaty? Power to Make and Implement Treaties, ISBN 0 642 24418 9 or see http://www.aph.gov.au/senate/committee/ ... /index.htm
On July 14, 1996, investigators working in the archives of the League of Nations, held in Geneva by the Swiss Government, found the original copy of the Leaguer of Nations Covenant. Interspersed among the text is a commentary in italics by Sir Geoffrey Butler, KBE, Fellow in International Law and Diplomacy at Corpus Christie College, Cambridge University.
The discovery of the original copy of the Covenant revealed Sir Geoffrey's commentaries had been part of this crucial document from the beginning, not added later as historians had believed.
Full significance of Article I of the Covenant has never been widely understood by the people of Australia, whose future was irrevocably altered by the Treaty of Versailles of June 28, 1919.
Sir Geoffrey Butler's comments went to the heart of the events. His commentary on Article I states:
"It is arguable that this article is the Covenant's most significant measure. By it, the British Dominions, namely New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and Canada have their independent nationhood established for the first time. There maybe friction over small matters in giving effect to this internationally acknowledged fact, but the Dominions will always look to the League of Nations Covenant as their Declaration of Independence. That the change has come silently about and has been welcomed in all corners of the British Empire is the final vindication of the United Empire Loyalists."